Cage – for the birds I, II

In this case, names are important, because the project “For the Birds” is dedicated to John Cage, the famous and recently deceased American composer. But cage is not only a name, but also very suggestive of the glass Traisen Pavilion in St. Pölten, Lower Austria.

In this latter setting, and since early August 1992, Sebastian Prantl (dance), Cecilia Li (music) and Michael Pilz (film) have taken off with a good dozen dancers from all over the globe to a creative high-flying fantasy. This cage setting is permeable on all accounts – defining space and leaving it open at the same time, it is a site for interaction, the perfect stage for an event telling of extremes: of freedom and law, of the inner and the outer, of inertia and movement…

The preparations for this project that combines film and music on equal standings, were rather involved. This reflects in the size of the budget for dance and film that was raised from several sponsors. The stops, one by one: First, Prantl contacted artists by mail, some of whom he knew personally. Auditions became necessary. Finally, he came to terms with the artists in one-on-one rehearsals, held from April till July, by agreeing on a fixed sequence of movements, a so-called “Kata”; this sequence changed immediately according to the disposition of the artists and to the music (piano pieces ranging from Scarlatti to Cage), without, however, forfeiting their basic character: When all dancers met for the first time in the Traisen pavilion, an “enormous trial of strength” (Prantl) took place at first, without, however, endangering the desired togetherness for even a second.

Quite the opposite! Attending the rehearsals (which was possible every Sunday during an international dance symposium), one had the impression of watching a sworn clan in which each idea springs from a common subconscious: After the daily workout, which, by the way, was led by a different member of the group each day, the fourteen artists rehearsed a group improvisation, dominated by none but influenced regarding dynamics, colour, and direction by all at the same time. And thus, the project kept changing from rehearsal to rehearsal without leaving any of the members clueless.

It proved to be an exciting and inspiring experiment, which, some day, might even become a model for further events. When the event will be performed on 4th November at the Wiener Secession, it will prove – following the lines of Cage’s aesthetic – that in the end, the process is more important than the product.
[Hartmut Regitz, critic, journalist and editor of the Berlin special periodical ballet international/tanz aktuell]

concept/choreography: Sebastian Prantl
music concept/piano: Cecilia Li
video/film concept: Michael Pilz
dancers: Cosima Borrer, Alexandra Palma di Cesnola, Linda Forsman, Raphaela Giordano, Ruth Golic, Christoph Haleb, István Horváth, Ferenc Kálmán, Barbara Kryslova, Joel Luecht, Sebastian Prantl, Giorgio Rossi, Gunther Sackl, Beverly Sandwith, Sybille Starkbaum, Miklós Visontai
costumes: Eva Riedl
organization: Barbara Koller, NÖ-PlanungsGmbH

[International dance symposium at the Traisen Pavillon St. Pölten, Lower Austria, August 1992; 12-hour event at the Secession Vienna, November 1992]


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